A Davidsonville gravel mine will remain open, even though county officials say the owner violated Anne Arundel zoning laws.
An administrative hearing officer earlier this month granted James E. Cunningham a special exception to continue operating a 44-acre sand and gravel mine on Patuxent River Road, about a quarter mile southwest of Queen Anne Bridge Road.
BTC The county Board of Appeals first approved mining on the agriculturally zoned property four years ago. But the board restricted the operation, requiring a fence and other buffers between the mine and four nearby homes. The board's approval expired in March.
The residents asked temporary hearing officer Roger Perkins to deny Mr. Cunningham a new license, saying he had not met the appeals board's requirements. He also violated county law by continuing to mine through May, they say.
Even officials with the county Office of Planning and Zoning said the company mined closer to flood plains and steep slopes than allowed.
"Until now, the applicant has been a bad neighbor," Mr. Perkins ** wrote in his Aug. 7 decision. "That cannot continue."
"One answer to this would be to deny the request to continue the special exception," Mr. Perkins said. "However, this property is well suited to a sand and gravel operation. Contractors need a local source of gravel. The public welfare is served by approving the continuation of this sand and gravel operation."
Mr. Perkins imposed several conditions on the mine. Among them: It must come no closer than 300 feet to any home or within 100 feet of a flood plain. County planner Kevin Dooley said Mr. Cunningham's plans would have brought the operation within 190 feet of Timothy Freeman's home.
On one side, the mine must be separated from its neighbors by a 15-foot-high protective earthen berm. The ruling also requires trees be planted every five feet along Queen Anne Bridge Road to screen the operation from view.